Weekly Update–Saving Money–May 20, 2018–Everybody Loves a Parade!

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Yesterday, we enjoyed the Iris Festival Parade with the family.

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We had never been to this particular parade before, although my sister and brother-in-law have been every year, for years and years.  So, they knew things we did not.  I read a sign that said the road closed at 9, so figured we needed to be much earlier than that.  So, we were extremely early, and wondered why there were a few empty chairs along the sidewalk, but no people.  So, we waited, and waited, and waited, and wondered where they all were.  We did have a great time talking, something that is rare these days to find enough time for:) A few people trickled in, but around 9:30-10, all of a sudden, they all showed up from the side streets, carrying lawn chairs, snacks, drinks, and so on!  All of a sudden, the road was full of eager, chattering people, and soon after that the parade came along.

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It was my favorite kind of parade.  There were a couple of marching bands, choirs of elementary school kids, fire trucks, classic cars, and trucks with hay bales on the back, bearing princesses of various sorts, and in one case, Santa Clause!  There were iris flowers stuck all over the vehicles, which were pretty.

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A couple of ladies that Rob works with came to join us, and one brought her son.  He struck up an acquaintance with Patsy right away and we all enjoyed watching how much he enjoyed the parade.  Someone from one of the floats gave him an iris, and he promptly brought it to Patsy.  How sweet!  I really enjoyed putting some faces to names of people he works with.

There were many freebies for the kids–a bounce house, free snow cones and bubbles, candy galore…..they had a blast!   Even the Chinese food restaurant gave out free teriyaki chicken after the parade!  It was a very inexpensive outing for the family–Rob got a coffee early on, and our group bought and shared a few candy bars from the school kids who very ingeniously went along the parade route selling them before the parade started for their fundraiser and I got a cup of egg flower soup because I couldn’t eat the chicken.  We skipped the rides at the carnival, and buying anything at the booths that were set up.  It was a super fun morning!

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Before the parade, Rob made this cheesy, ham and olive-filled biscuit that was probably awful for us, but tasted oh, so good!

I cleaned for several hours on Friday.  I am trying to do some deep cleaning, and worked on the kitchen.  I even got the window washed, inside and out!  The more I clean, the more dirt and clutter I see!  At least I got started:). I had to put cleaning on the calendar and was ruthless to decline other things that tried to steal my cleaning time!  Sad, but it worked, at least this time!

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I worked in the yard and garden for many hours, in little blocks of time.  If I had 15 minutes, I used it! If I had an hour, I used that.  I am really getting somewhere, but have lots left to go:) We got the sprinkler system set up in the garden, and the grass chopped out around the permanent sprinkler heads in almost all of the yard.  I keep finding one here and there that I missed, but we are getting them freed from grass!

I used herbs from my herb bed.  I used rosemary on some roasted potatoes.  Yum!  I used thyme in split pea soup.  Double yum!  It’s nice to have them out there, freed from weeds and more established than they were last year.  I hoed up quite a few of the 1000 or so baby parsley plants, but there are still lots left, surrounding the turtle!  I noticed I am low on chives and parsley in the spice cabinet, so I hope to eventually dry some of each.

I was able to get both Friday Freebies from Fred Meyer this week, because I went early on Friday.  They’ve been running out of the more desirable items.  I got a free car charger and a Lara bar.  While there, I got the odds and ends of groceries I needed.

I stopped at a garage sale on my way home and purchased some picture frames to put some of Ja’Ana’s graduation pictures in for the upcoming party and the table display I have to make for the actual graduation.  I paid $2.50 for 3, in various sizes.  IMG_7040

 

I used a string, clothespins, and some push pins to put up the graduation cards we’ve received.  There are a couple more kids who may send one, so I can put up another string underneath this one if they do.

Rob and Lovana stopped and picked up some free wood and Rob plans to chop it into firewood-sized chunks.  It’s time to start preparing for next winter, and while not a lot, it’s something and was free!  He will keep his eyes out for more, and may buy a cord if he finds a good deal.

 

 

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Just Planted Garden Update–May 15, 2018

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I finally finished planting what needs to be planted right now after work on Monday.  Rob and I worked out there until it was getting dark, with me planting and him getting the sprinklers set up.  We had several other previous sessions where we planted parts of the garden.  It was so good to be finished for a while anyway.  Patsy and I had been hand watering our newly planted rows and starts up until Monday night.  What a relief to have the sprinklers going!

On the lower right hand side, you can see tiny corn plants.  I started them in the greenhouse and set them out.  I’m trying corn for the first time in this garden and am trying an experiment.  Since the area is small, I’ve made small blocks for pollination purposes.  There are 4 extremely short rows, with about 5 or 6 plants in each row.  I bought a corn succession package from Territorial with Sugar Buns, Bodacious and Golden Jubilee.  The idea is that you plant them all on the same day and harvest at different times.  So, these plants are the earliest, Sugar Buns, and there is a small block of each kind in the garden, sown from seeds.  We shall see.  All I want is corn for fresh eating for here and for family Sunday dinners.  My sister often has extra that I freeze.  Last year, her extras came already in little cartons, because she processed it for me!  (Thank you sis!) That was the easiest corn I ever put into the freezer:). We don’t eat a large quantity of frozen corn, but love having some on hand for those times when Rob wants it, which he has several times lately.

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You can see the little pepper plants that we started in the greenhouse.  There is another set of them planted on the far end by the sprinkler.  There are Anaheim 64, Jedi Jalepeno, Serranos (hot for salsa–I need about 5 peppers total for my salsa–whoops), Lunchbox (small red, orange and yellow sweet peppers), Carmen (sweet Italian–long, mild, and will turn red), and Pepperoncini (which are actually long and squiggly and have a tiny little bite).  My peppers did not work well last year.  I’m hoping by moving them around, growing my desired varieties, and fertilizing them, they will do better this year.  I still have a very few frozen ones from 3 summers ago–time to get those used up and new ones frozen!

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The tomatoes look great with that red mulch. In front of them are Oregon Sugar Pod II snow peas.  I’ve already planted another small planting, as we ate them all summer long last year, in many little plantings.  I’m sure you can see that the lettuce and spinach are growing, and there is more lettuce planted elsewhere already for when we eat this.  I’m letting those green onions go to seed.  I’m having quite a bit of success letting the green onions grow themselves.

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I finally finished the strawberry bed.  I cleaned out the berries I planted last year, tore out the really old ones, and planted bush Delicata squash and zinnias in the blank part. The soaker hose is not up and running as well.

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I must have a thousand baby parsley plants that self-seeded in my herb bed.  Patsy potted some up for my sister.  Now there are only 980 left in my herb bed:)

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I have nice oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and of course, baby parsley growing in front of my rhubarb.  They were planted last year, and came back strong.  I put a few of the clove pinks in front of them.  They were planted from seeds my sister brought back from England.  Also, there is a tiny winter pansy my aunt gave me last year, and I added some other pansies.  On the other side (not pictured), there are chives, mint, and a lot of weeds still.  I did plant some more basil, cilantro, and dill in the garden in rows, and hope to have many, many herbs this summer.

Now I’m waiting for seeds to come up. I’ve planted green and yellow zucchini, pickling cucumbers along with slicing and lemon cucumbers.  There are Winter Luxury Pumpkin and Sweet Meat Squash seeds in their hills, along with many other seeds waiting to sprout.  The onions, tomatoes, and peppers are from starts. There are some potatoes coming up, some that I planted, and some volunteers from last summer.  The compost heap has potatoes and cilantro growing like crazy on the edge of it. It was no easy task to get everything fitted in that I wanted.  At our old house, Rob always used to just go till up another area for me to plant when I ran out of room.  We don’t have that option here.It helped to not have to make space for too many beans this year.  I kind of overdid the beans last year, but will succession plant enough to eat them all summer.  I may not have to can any this year.  I will count the leftover jars when the plants are bigger, because we will keep eating the canned ones until then.  There is still a small blank space for watermelon, cantaloupe and future small plantings of lettuce, snow peas, and bush beans.

The melons are in the greenhouse, getting a little more size before I plant them out.  I am going to try the green mulch with them.  I’m not going to on the zucchini.  Sometimes, you just don’t need or want a bumper crop of that!

I will re-plant any areas that open up as the summer progresses.  I always grow a new batch of zucchini and cucumber plants for fall, along with some other things like greens, boc choi, beets, and snow peas, perhaps.  It’s kind of what I’m in the mood for, have seeds leftover for, and can find space for in July and August.

The blue berries are blooming and forming small berries. So are the raspberries and Marion berries. The artichokes have been giving me a few artichokes, which I love.  The peach tree has little fuzzy peaches on it.  There is a head of leaf lettuce that I will cut this week from a volunteer plant, which I had tiller man go around.

It’s a time of promise.  The seeds and plants are in and the weeds have not started to grow around them yet.  So, I’m planning to bask in that feeling for at least a week and just keep turning on that automatic sprinkler system:). I will turn my attention to flowerbeds next.

 

 

 

Garden Update–May 5, 2018–Planting

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Rob re-tilled the section of the garden he had tilled the other day.  Then, it was ready to plant.

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Luke Skywalker used his trusty blue light saber and attacked the large overgrown plants that needed to go.  They were Darth Vader or someone else from the dark side.  (Star Wars is Jake’s world these days). They were defeated.

After we got those gone-to-seed plants removed, Rob tilled up the other 1/2 of the garden.  He will need to do another pass over that 1/2 in the next couple days.

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I got tomatoes planted, and my little onion starts as well.  Each tomato plant has a little organic fertilizer in the bottom of the hole. I buried them deeply as they were getting leggy.  I also planted a few carrots and beans.  I have much more to go, but it was a good start.  I did cover these tomatoes with some red plastic mulch, as an experiment.  It’s supposed to help them grow better.  We will see.

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The lettuce is up well, and the cabbage and broccoli is starting to take off.  The big plants in the back are artichokes. The peas are up well, and the snow peas as well.  There are tiny beets and carrots up as well.  The potatoes did not come up well.  There are lots of blanks.  I will replant in the empty spaces in the next few days.

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The raspberries are about to bloom, as are the Marion berries (blackberries).

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The strawberries are in full bloom.  I fertilized them and watered them a bit.  I put some fertilizer on the blueberries, too.

I worked in the garden for 4-1/2 hours today.  It was great exercise and I felt awesome to see what was done.  There is so much more to do, but I feel happy for what I did get done.

Patsy planted some zinnias in the greenhouse last night, and I planted a few more items in there as well.  Jake had some seeds that were his prize at Burger Ville.  We got those planted as well.  They look like wildflowers to me.  It should be fun for him to see them grow.

I have also done a little edging and weeding out front in the flowerbeds over the past few days.  There is also a place on the edge of the garden that I am working to get some serious grass out of.  So, I’ve been digging a lot with a shovel. I am going to be a little sore tomorrow.  The good kind of sore…the kind of sore that tells you that you did something worthwhile today.   I hope I can hobble tomorrow:).

 

Greenhouse Update–What Shall We Eat?–March 7, 2018

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I love the little artichokes!  Now that they each have their own little pot, they are continuing to grow like crazy.  So encouraging!  Out of my 6 seeds, I ended up with 4 strong ones, and one little, tiny one.  I’m giving it a chance.  Who knows what it will do:)

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As I find a few minutes, I slip out to the greenhouse and transplant what I can in the time I have.  So far, I’ve done all the Willamette tomatoes, the San Marzano Giagante, the artichokes, and the basil.  I still have the cherry tomatoes, and a few more things to do.  Once I transplant them, the plants are growing rapidly.  I can clearly see that it’s time to get out there and get the rest done.  Soon it will be time to plant more little seeds.

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Outside, various daffodils have burst into bloom.  There are several varieties here, and so they bloom at different times.  So pretty!

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This week’s menu plan is all about cleaning up odds and ends, and using stored food.   With the fridge emptied out a little, I hope to wash it out this weekend.

I took this little pile of apples, cut them into chunks and cooked them with raisins, cinnamon and sugar.  It was delicious.  I made mini muffins from the one, lonely, sad banana.

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I pulled chicken legs from the freezer and marinated them in home-made teriyaki sauce. I squeezed soy sauce out of all the little packets in the cupboard, left over from long past Chinese food meals.  Once I read the labels and realized they were gluten-free, there was no need for them to languish in the cupboard any longer.  I added a couple packets of sesame seeds, brown sugar, water, 3 green onions I pulled from the garden (yea!),  and marinaded them all day, then baked them.

Last night, we cooked for the college age gathering/worship night at church and most of the family ate there with them. (I actually got some super great chicken and rice at my sister’s house–she was cooking that, before I got there).  They provided us with a budget, and we made tacos/nachos, corn, and cake. We made it possible for gluten-free people to have plenty of choices, such as taco salad or chips and toppings.  I love my own home-made refried beans (not trying to brag, they just have so much more flavor from the peppers and onion I add), so decided to make a big batch.  I was happy to donate those, and also to keep a few here for our family to use.  They have a brilliant way of using up their left-overs.  (It was our first time cooking for this group, so we are learning).  They package them up, and the college kids take them home to eat the next day for lunch.  So, we rolled up the leftovers into burritos and put them in ziplock bags. Some were pretty plain, some had more fillings.  All had beans and cheese and tomatoes at least.  There were a very few baggies of lettuce, a few bags of corn chips, and several bags of corn.  We got a great feeling for how much food they eat, and will know better next time.  All in all, we were super pleased with how the food to hungry person ratio worked out.  There were leftovers, but not an enormous amount, and they all went home with the young adults.

We’ve eaten up the leftovers from last weekend, including the chicken/rice soup, and a lot of turkey hot dogs have been eaten.  We had a big package of those.  We are eating a lot of salad this week, since I bought that huge bag of romaine from Costco 2 weekends ago. The 5 dozen eggs have been hit hard, with all the baking plus scrambled eggs, but there are still a few cartons left. There’s lots of cheddar cheese, and a little bread left.   I only spent $21 last weekend because I stocked up so well that first weekend of the month, but needed milk and a few other very-much-on-sale items, like water for $1.50/case.  This weekend, I will spend more and stock back up on produce, and get whatever super sales items that show up on the ads.  I will plan that out on Friday, when I get time.  I will make more chicken/rice soup for this weekend and maybe another kind of soup as well, for Sunday.  I have bagels frozen for Jake, as he is coming over.  He has a new Star Wars cookbook his mother bought him, and is dying to make something from it.  We will!

There is enough chicken for tomorrow.  There are still a few refried beans, and a very few tortilla shells we had on hand. We will use canned fruit for the next few days as most of the fresh has been used.  I need one more main dish for Friday, and will figure it out Friday:). I’m very pleased with how this moderate-budgeted month is going!  I’m getting some odds and ends used up, and hopefully will clean the fridge.

 

Greenhouse Update-Feb. 27, 2018

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Last evening, after work, we were able to do some transplanting.  In the back of this picture, you can see the hybrid broccoli blend (Territorial Seeds) looking great after each got their own little cell.  This entire tray is now broccoli, and that is more than we can use, so we hope to find homes for some of it.  We use a more coarse planting mix for the second stage of growth.  You can see that the onions are still in the finer starting mix.  They didn’t come up as thickly as I would like.  I will be planting some more in another tray, soon.  (Look at the ones on the left).

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The cabbage mix (Pinetree Garden Seeds) was ready to transplant as well.  You can see how the little tiny red one barely made the cut, but I wanted at least one red one, so I gave it a cell even though it was behind the other greener ones.  I’ve done this mix before, and there are several kinds that grow.  Just like the hybrid broccoli blend, they don’t all get ripe at once, which is helpful to me.

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A few days ago, I put the Corinto Greenhouse Cucumbers (Johnny’s Selected Seeds) into a pot with lettuce in front.  There was an escapee onion in the broccoli, so I put it in this pot.  This is an experiment.  I’ll see how it grows.

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I dragged the parsley pot from last summer into the greenhouse, and it’s starting to grow well.  The cilantro on the left is as well.  I will add a little more potting soil to each pot, and perhaps some fertilizer, especially to the parsley.  Cilantro is an annual, but it self-seeded into the pot where it was growing, so there are lots of babies in there.  I won’t turn down fresh herbs.

There is much more to be done each week now, as spring comes closer.  Every single day, we water everything a little bit to keep it moist.  Soon, I will plant some more flowers and other veggies, and transplant the tomatoes.  It was very fun and relaxing for Rob and I to slip out there last evening and work for a little while.  It didn’t take long, and gave us a good chance to talk for a few minutes.

Garden Update–Varieties I am Starting in the Greenhouse–Feb. 8, 2018

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Of course, the biggest garden news around here is that Rob has finished the greenhouse! I have been busily planting little seeds, and now am waiting for them to come up.

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I have planted: Carmen peppers–a long, Italian sweet pepper that turns red quickly.  I get these from Johnny’s.  I freeze these for winter and use anytime I would use a green or red pepper.  They ripen quickly, which is a must in my climate.

Anaheim College 64 peppers: a mild, Mexican pepper to use where green chilies are called for.  I use in my home-made salsa, and I freeze them.

Jedi peppers:  a slightly spicier jalapeño, salsa, chili, stuffed, poppers, etc. (new to me this year–from Johnny’s). I dice and freeze jalapeños for use throughout the year. This variety is new to me.

Sereno: A quite hot Serrano pepper for salsa.  That’s all I use this one for.

Italian Pepperoncini:  I grew these several years ago.  They are seeds from Territorial, and were not what I was expecting–the kind you get pickled in jars.  Instead, they are skinny, squiggly peppers with a nice flavor, and just the tiniest kick to them.  I froze so many, and used them in chili, sloppy Joes, spaghetti sauce, and more.  We really liked them, so am delighted to have them again this year.  My frozen mix was lovely, as I just chopped up the green, yellow and red peppers and mixed them in the bag.  They were different colors because they were different degrees of ripeness.

Willamette tomatoes: This is an old favorite that my parents grew in my childhood, and I continue growing.  It’s great for eating or canning.

San Marzano Giagantico:  This one is new to me, but looks like a large-sized paste/sauce tomato.  I like to make things like tomato sauce, and like the less watery ones for that.

Chocolate Cherry: Little brown-red cherry tomatoes.  They have a really nice flavor.

Yellow Pear:  I’ve been growing these yellow, pear-shaped cherry tomatoes for years.  We like them to snack on, and in lunches during the fall.

Pinetree Cabbage Mix:  I love this one from Pinetree and have grown it many times.  There are many, many kinds of cabbage mixed in one packet, so you get red ones, green ones, pointy ones, round ones, and so forth, all in one packet, which is fun and saves money over buying several separate packs.  I start them in the greenhouse and then plant out a balanced mix in the garden when they are bigger.

Hybrid Broccoli blend:  This one is also a favorite, from Territorial.  The broccoli matures at different rates, so gives me a crop for a longer period of time.  Then, the side shoots keep us going for a long time after I pick the main heads off.

Emerald Artichoke:  This one is new to me, but I planted 6 seeds, and we will see how they do.  We love artichokes and rarely buy them.

Patterson Onion:  This one is a yellow storage onion.  It’s supposed to be similar to Copra, which is the one I usually grow.  I plant the little seedlings out in the garden when they are larger, and in the past have grown enough to last the entire winter.

Red Bull Onion:  This one is a red storage onion.

I planted a little basil, and a small amount of lettuce mix.  I also planted 1 cell each of a greenhouse tomato and a greenhouse cucumber.  If they grow, I will plant them in pots in the greenhouse and see what happens.

We have a heat mat under them, and I water them every day.  They were planted in the super fine started mix, and will all need to be transplanted into growing mix later on.  Rob will get grow lights up this weekend, to keep them from getting spindly.  We don’t have any heat in there, but have a small space heater we can put in there, if the temperatures drop. The cabbage, broccoli and lettuce will be planted out in early spring, as they can take the cold better than other plants.

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I’ve been tying up the raspberries.  On the few June-bearing plants I have been babying, from our old place, I used the biodegradable, stretchable twist ties I bought.  On the Everbearing ones that were here when we moved in, I used baling twine.  That first fall when we moved in, these berries tasted terrible, so I planned to remove them once my other ones got going.  Last summer, they were delicious, so they got another chance!  We will see how they do this year.

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I read quite a few articles on the internet about the Everbearing ones, and there were 2 choices. 1) cut them completely off and I would get a crop late summer or fall. OR 2) Trim out the old canes from last summer, and cut off the tips of the canes that had fruited last fall, and I would get an early summer crop and a fall crop.  I decided to try #2.  I am almost done.  I have cut out old canes, and trimmed the tops.  Now, I am tying the canes loosely in bunches at their bases so they will be more controlled this year.   They got pretty wild last year!  I tightened one existing wire from the old owner for more support, but need to work on that some more, as there are a couple more wires I can tighten.  Over time, the wire has gotten pretty loose.  Then, my plan is to tie up the bushes with more twine as they grow.  I still want to give them a little fertilizer, as well, before I mark that job off as finished.

My mom told me to check my chives, as hers were growing.

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I found them!  I removed the leaves and….

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We will be eating chives!

 

 

 

 

 

Winter is for Planning my 2018 Garden!

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I spent several hours this week pouring over these 2 catalogs and going over the website at Pinetree Garden Seeds.  I ordered from all 3 places.  I have favorite items from each place, and this year, I got them all.  My standard plan is to order a small package of an item I want to start, say Yellow Pear Tomatoes, and grow some one year and save the other 1/2 for next year.  It has worked well for me in the past when I don’t need very many of a certain kind of plant, but still want to start my own seedlings.  This year was different, as I was starting from scratch.  So, I had a great deal of fun getting to order everything I wanted!

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The greenhouse is starting to shape up.  It’s quite a bit bigger than I imagined it would be.  Rob has been working on it after work, in the late afternoons, but it is still not finished.  I think the greenhouse will be done at about the same time as the seeds arrive. We had contemplated going down to Cottage Grove and getting our Territorial Seeds on Saturday, but decided not to go.  Instead, he felt he needed to stay here and try to finish up the greenhouse.  So, I placed that order this morning.

I’m sure some of you want to know what I am planting.  I will do posts on that as I plant them, rather than one huge list.  I will grow a little bit of everything, though.  Peppers, onions, tomatoes, carrots, beets, lettuce, cabbage, and more!

I have a lot of garden work to do in the next few months.  It’s way too early to do much, and as I write, rain is pelting down on the deck outside the sliding glass window beside me, so it’s very soggy here.  There is some pruning I can do, however, and we are getting ready to do that soon.  Some branches are very high up and need to come off, so Rob is getting that organized.  Some are down low, and I can manage that when I get a sunny day and some time.  I got a nice, new pair of small clippers for Christmas, and am looking forward to snipping off some old debris with them.  That is a job I can get Patsy to do any day, as well.  She loves to snip.  So, we have an old pair that will be just hers, and we will hopefully get to snipping soon!  I have big pruners as well, for the thick branches.

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I have raspberries to trim (everbearing). I’ve been reading about different methods of doing that on the internet, and feel ready to snip soon.  There are a few plants of June-bearing raspberries from my old house that my aunt nursed through the time when we didn’t have a house that are looking great now, and I will tie them up. I’m much more familiar with that kind, as that is the kind I’ve always grown before.  The everbearing ones were here when we moved in, so I kept them, at least until the June-bearing ones come into their full cropping potential.  The blackberries are done and the strawberries need some more fertilizer and some compost.  The blueberry bushes look fine, but I will add fertilizer.

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As I was enjoying a smoothie made from strawberries picked off our bushes last summer, it made me all the more eager to get the process going again for this year!  There is just something so cheerful and hopeful about starting seeds.

Are you making garden plans yet?